Archives for posts with tag: take a picture it lasts longer

The sun rises later these days than it did back in June. The Autumnal Equinox is tomorrow. It’s quite early and I am at a local trailhead adjacent to a meadow, not far from home. I am waiting for the sunrise, drinking coffee, yawning, and wishing I had slept in. I’ve got my camera ready for my morning walk.

My morning camera walks serve a purpose; they get me out of the house with my camera for a bit of fun, exercise, and “me time”, and they also give my partner a shot at some deep sleep. (When I am asleep I sometimes snore, and when I am awake I am often a bit clumsy and noisy at least until I am fully awake). This approach works for us, but tends to be a seasonal solution. Already I have begun to resist waking up so early, where in past weeks I struggled to sleep during these early hours. The later sunrise is the culprit.

…The early hours betwixt day and night are a good time for meditation and reflection.

An orange glow begins as a thread on the horizon, becoming a sort of messy smudge as minutes pass. Still not enough light for my lens, and the trail alongside the park and meadow, which passes through a vineyard, is still quite dark. I wait. I yawn. I tried to snatch a few minutes of nap time for myself, but the mornings are now also too chilly and I don’t even doze off for a moment – I just yawn. lol

Waiting for the sunrise.

…I think about work and routines and future mornings and finish my coffee. I develop a cramp in my right foot and shift in my seat until I can easily massage it until the cramp eases. The western sky takes on hints of ultramarine and dark lavender. The eastern horizon becomes more peach and tangerine, with swaths of gray-blue clouds sweeping across the sky. This is not wasted time; I love watching the sun rise.

The dawn of a new day.

The sun is up. The coffee is gone. I’ve gotten a good walk in and snapped some pictures. My Traveling Partner sends me a message; he is awake. The day begins in earnest. I have no idea what today will bring… looks like it’s time to get started and find out. 😁

I woke early-ish, pulled on my clothes still only half awake, and grabbed my camera gear. I heard my Traveling Partner call out to me as I neared the door (“he’s awake?”) and turned back for a “see you in a little while” and a kiss. The sun hadn’t yet risen as I reached the highway heading out of town to the nearby nature preserve (great bird-watching, and well-maintained trails). Lovely morning for it, I thought to myself.

Sunrise over a misty morning along the marsh-side trail.

It’s a Sunday, and I’m thinking I’ll get out into the garden this morning. After I finish my coffee. After I upload all these photos. After I finish feeling more like relaxing than I feel like getting shit done. lol

It was a good morning for pictures of birds.

I enjoyed the drive. There was almost no traffic at all so early on a Sunday morning. I enjoyed the misty dawn and the pale pinks and peaches of the sunrise as it developed into a new day. I enjoyed the walk down the trail alongside the marsh. I enjoyed the moments, sitting quietly, watching for the next interesting picture to unfold in front of my camera lens.

I wasn’t alone on the trail. I wasn’t even the only person on the trail with a camera.

The last several times I’ve come to this location for my camera walk in the morning, I find myself parked next to the same other person. Another woman enjoying her morning walk, camera ready for action, a portable seat or cushion with her (I have a compact folding stool, myself). We greet each other as friends, at this point, and sometimes share a portion of the walk, even stopping for similar shots along our path. We talk of other locations we favor, and share experiences (“Did you see the pelicans?”, “I got a great shot of the swallows yesterday!”). We make jokes now about the morning not seeming complete if we don’t see the other person’s car in the parking lot. She has a much fancier camera and lens than I do. I mentioned how awesome it would be to have that kind of “reach”… she smiles and admits it is pretty nice, then comments that she often regrets the choice; it’s very heavy, and sometimes the weight limits how far she will walk. I admit that I enjoy the lightweight gear I’ve got so much that I don’t have any immediate plan to get a larger lens. We agree that the gear has less to do with the quality of our images than our limited skill – and our good fortune on timing and location. At some point, if we’re walking together as we were this morning, our paths will take us different directions. That’s the way of things, isn’t it? We are each having our own experience, walking our own paths, and any momentary companionship, however genial, is quite temporary. 🙂

I smile and sip my coffee. Does it taste better because I went for quite a long walk beforehand? I for sure appreciate the warmth of the mug in my hand after the chilly morning on the marsh.

Pelican. Also, swallow. This is what “luck” looks like in a photograph.

I finally see a pelican, after a couple visits to this location. People on the trail had been mentioning them for the last couple times I’ve been here, but I haven’t seen them. Probably didn’t walk far enough in the correct direction…? This morning, I see one solitary pelican. I watch for awhile, take numerous pictures, and while I was doing that, I was got seriously lucky; the pelican flared out its wings, and shook itself out in the early morning light. Amusingly, I also captured a swallow in flight in the same shot. I’ve been trying to take pictures of swallows there over the marsh for weeks without luck; they’re very fast, and swoopy. Hard to get a good picture. This time, I got several good pictures of swallows – but I didn’t know it until I got home. They just happened to be in several pictures I took of other things. LOL That’s so often the way of it, is it not? I think there’s something to be learned here.

Where does this path lead?

As the morning began to warm, more visitors appear on the trail. I turn back toward the parking lot, thinking thoughts of home, of love, and of a good cup of coffee. I think about perspective, and of a future not yet determined. I fill my lungs with the scent of meadow flowers, realizing how very much I enjoy the fragrance of wild carrot (“Queen Anne’s Lace”) and yarrow, mingling with meadow grasses and late summer wildflowers.

What a pleasant morning. I think about the garden as I sip my coffee. Seeds are selected. Crops that are finished have been cleared out, their left over leaves and stems chopped up and mulched into the bed. Crops that just didn’t do as well as I’d hoped and seem unlikely to produce a harvest this year (looking your way, melons) will be cleared away, too. Then I’ll add compost and bring the bed level up again (it compressed quite a bit after I initially filled the raised bed my partner built for me), and plant new crops for autumn harvest and for wintering over. I have a lot to learn about gardening. LOL

I sip my coffee and grin at myself at ever thinking I had any idea about “how to garden”. I’ve been gardening in my half-assed way for some 50 years… since I was a kid. My parents had a substantial garden, and I labored in it weekends and summers (mostly weeding and bitching about weeding). I had a small plot of my own that I rather foolishly planted in Jerusalem artichokes, which thrived to an unimaginable degree – cool enough and the flowers were pretty, but no one in the family actually enjoyed them as a food. So… kinda silly and as it turned out, a waste of garden space. Very low maintenance. I learned nothing much from the endeavor besides this one important lesson; grow what you will use and enjoy. That’s not nothing, but hardly worth the mammoth effort involved in keeping those ‘chokes cut back season after season. lol

I have since had small garden beds, container gardens, and patio gardens… all rather fortunately focused mostly on roses and a few herbs. Occasionally I’d grow some veggies, and get something wonderful for my efforts (supremely tasty cherry tomatoes one year, another year a bumper crop of amazing Swiss chard), but I’ve tended to be both lazy and disorganized, and prone to letting shit fall behind when the heat is worst and the garden most in need of my attention day-to-day. No excuses, and I’m not looking to rationalize my results, I’m just saying; I am not my idea of a “great gardener”.

Now I’ve got this home that is mine, and this raised bed out front that my partner built for me, surrounded by flower beds. I’ll only get the results I work for, and that’s one of life’s immutable truths, isn’t it? My partner has set me up for success, though, with a raised bed that is comfortable to work in, close to water, within constant view, and I do adore it. 😀 I find myself ready to admit I’m not a very good gardener and work toward being a better one. That’s a nice place to find myself. It’s a good place to stand, considering options and looking ahead.

It’s time to begin again.

I am up early enough on a Saturday to get to the Farmer’s Market before it’s mobbed. I don’t enjoy crowds. I move easily enough through them, but doing so tends to push me into a very focused, navigation-oriented manner of thinking that pushes aesthetic to the side in favor of things that feel more about survival. I like to move more gently through my experience. I enjoy being aware, and at leisure. I like to take my time. Those are thing I enjoy. Chances are if you know me, or if you speak to someone who does, on the matter of how I move through my experience moment to moment, it is quite likely that ‘slowly’, ‘gently’, and ‘aware’ are not going to be the first words to come to mind. I practice. A lot.

I am thinking about my imminent departure for the Farmer’s Market, this morning. Camera in hand, I am entertaining myself with a wee scavenger hunt; I am looking at it as an exercise in improving my awareness, too. I giggle when I think of a favorite cartoon hero, Sterling Archer, and his ‘total situational awareness’; it is his stated sense of self, but from the viewer perspective, he haplessly bumbles through quite a lot of his experience, demonstrating extraordinary good fortune every bit as often as any detailed explicit awareness. His experience is very much his own; it differs greatly from the perspective on his experience held by others. I, too, often feel quite aware of my surroundings, my experience, the presence, behavior, and demeanor of others…I have substantial empirical evidence that I am far less so than I tend to feel. ‘Why?’ is not the relevant piece of the puzzle, generally. ‘Why’ only becomes relevant in any way if something about the why is problematic for achieving goals, making desired changes, or negatively impacts my quality of life, overall. So… let’s not worry so much about ‘why’ today? 🙂

Some moments only reveal their beauty when I slow down to notice it.

Some moments only reveal their beauty when I slow down to notice it.

One reason I began carrying my camera everywhere (some weeks or months after starting this blog, actually) is that my camera has become a tool for bringing me back to a mindful moment, and reconnecting with ‘now’ – by raising my awareness of some detail, in order to get a picture of it. I move through my experience so quickly, in spite of my joy in slowing things down; taking a picture requires a willful pause, and careful consideration of what I see. The pictures themselves have the additional wonder of holding the power to bring me back to that specific mindful moment, at a later point. In time of greatest stress, doubt, or despair, flipping through my photographs one by one puts other moments in front of me for consideration. They become keys to the locks in my chaos  and damage that sometimes cause so much suffering; when I am very distressed, agitated, or blue, I have trouble connecting with better moments and returning to a place of emotional equilibrium. The pictures tend to help me leverage the power of a disinhibiting injury – to be liberated by the very qualities that sometimes limit me. The pictures help me, over time, tweak my implicit bias in a more positive direction; I don’t photograph things that cause me pain, or further suffering, generally speaking. (There are artists whose creative strength takes them down those dark paths, and I am awed by their power to reveal, and to heal.)

I don’t assume that because I have the injury I do, that these practices are exclusively beneficial to me; your results may vary, and there are verbs involved, but actions do have consequences – surely you would experience results of your own. 🙂

I used to fight stress and panic by shutting myself off, by withdrawing into myself and cutting off the world.  It didn’t actually work out that way, and I suffered in spite of my withdrawal, sometimes more so by building a solitary emotional prison, invisible and alone. I tend to feel more angry and encroached upon than comforted, or safe, by trying so hard to be less open, less available, less outspoken. I end up resenting the lack of consideration, the lack of reciprocity from others, and the constant pinging on my consciousness of the world. On the other hand, it is not a better deal to launch emotional weapons of mass distraction into a crowd, or to impose my very intense emotional life on others, over their explicit objections or boundary setting. Quite a puzzle.

I am still a student. There are questions, and more to learn. For now, I am walking my own path, and today it leads to the Farmer’s Market, camera in hand, to see the world.